Maine Munchies Ad

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Pay Per Click Advertising Blog

Check out ppcThink. I think this new blog is going to have very useful information for anyone interested in practical pay per click advertising strategies. The author, Rose Sylvia (aka flyingrose), highlights many of the problems with AdWords I've been blogging about. See her StumbleUpon pages about AdWords. I'm looking forward to learning from her new PPC advertising blog.

Apogee Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 27, 2007

Google AdWords Bidding Warning

In "Did Google Kill the SEO Star?"I mentioned an upcoming change to the ad ranking formula for top spots. This "improved" top ad placement formula is now in effect. A respected colleague urges caution. Now, more than ever, it's critical to have a sound keyword bidding strategy for Google AdWords in place. Note that Google now has a help section dedicated to this new top ad position formula change. The most significant change is the creation of a new minimum bid which will not be published like the minimum bid for search. Pay close attention to the "How is the minimum price for top ad placement determined?" help page which reads:
First, your ad must pass our high quality threshold for eligibility to appear in top spots. If your ad is shown in a top spot, its price will be determined by the auction, but subject to a minimum price for top positions. This minimum price varies based on the quality of each ad per search query. For this reason, our system doesn't display the minimum price.
Time to buy Google stock (ticker: GOOG), eh? Companies that have had extremely high bids in place, confident they'd never actually be paying them, are going to boost Google's top line.

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Google Sky is Cool But Mission on Earth is Failing

With a degree in aeronautics & astronautics, I must admit that I'm intrigued by Google Sky. However, I'm a little perplexed that Google is pursuing these kinds of diversions while their mission is failing (on purpose).

More on the launch of Google Sky. Think of Sky in Google Earth as a virtual telescope. Slick.

Apogee Tags (made w/ TagBuildr): , , , ,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

AdWords Team Sabotages Google Corporate Mission & Philosophy

I now understand why the AdWords team has chosen to ignore the Google mission statement. They're also ignoring Google's stated philosophy which includes the rejection of pop-up ads. There's a whole page on the Google corporate site devoted to this no pop-ups philosophy which begins:
Google does not allow pop-up ads of any kind on our site. We find them annoying. So why do they occasionally appear when you search on Google? Here are a few possible explanations:
  • You may have encountered a squatter with an address similar to Google's. Occasionally, individuals will register domain names that are one letter off from a well-known URL in hopes of attracting those who make mistakes in their typing.
Now, what I'm about to explain doesn't violate this philosophy, technically speaking, because pop-up ads are being displayed on the Google search network and not on Google's site itself. However, if they "find them annoying" yet allow them on partner sites on their own network, then they are clearly violating the stated philosophy. This example is particularly ironic given Google's choice of the word "squatter" in this context. Google is profiting from sites who engage in this kind of practice through their AdSense for Domains program. How do I know this? I've seen the traffic in clients' web server log files.

In the recent AdWords experiment I conducted, I chose not to exclude like I do now for clients' accounts. I was curious to see if I'd pay for any parked domain traffic and, if so, where that traffic would come from. What I found was that people intending to go to the Iowa GOP site ( or were instead typing which is a parked domain powered by which is owned by DomainSponsor which is partnered with Google. Now, going back to the above text on Google's corporate site where they talk about "a squatter with an address similar to Google's" - would be considered a "squatter" in this case? I don't know. I don't know what's considered typosquatting or cybersquatting versus legitimate domaining.

My point is that if Google is going to use the term "squatter" on their own site, then they shouldn't make money via their domain parking network from sites that could even be construed as squatting. I think this is the reason the AdWords team has sabotaged the Google corporate mission. They are choosing to not report to advertisers the actual domains where ads are displayed. They are, therefore, choosing to not "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." They are ignoring Google's mission. Judge for yourself:

That screenshot is from a URL I traced in my firm's web server log files. Trying to figure out where that Google ad click ultimately originated from led me to the "fake" Iowa GOP site:

Notice that Firefox blocked not 1 but 2 pop-ups from this site. That's what I mean by the AdWords team ignoring the Google no pop-ups corporate philosophy. If pop-ups are prohibited on Google, they should also be prohibited on the Google search network.

Now, what really irks me, though, as a buyer of pure search advertising via AdWords (content network off) is the fact that Google lumps this traffic in with their search network. This is distribution fraud, an important distinction from click fraud, which Google claims to have under control. Notice the "Iowa Straw Poll" link on the parked domain site. I had purchased the exact phrase [iowa straw poll] via AdWords with ad distribution set only for Google and the search network. IOW, the content network was off because I wasn't interested in contextual advertising for the experiment. My expectation, then, was to purchase the kind of traffic described on the Google help page answering the "Where will my ads appear?" question for the search network:
Your ads may appear alongside or above search results, as part of a results page as a user navigates through a site's directory, or on other relevant search pages.
Do they mention navigation through a parked domain? No! Also, I'm not talking about direct navigation from generic keyword domains. That kind of traffic from a parked domain could be considered search advertising. Here's the path for each click my firm paid for that came from this particular URL:
  1. Someone types when intending to visit
  2. They click on the Iowa Straw Poll link
That is akin to contextual advertising. No one actively typed "iowa straw poll" into a search box. No one typed a generic keyword domain like directly into the browser bar. Do you see how Google's got this all wrong? Is this search advertising? Not even close. Someone types "" and the advertiser pays for the "iowa straw poll" keyword after someone clicks on a link. Clicking on a link is not conducting a search. Hiding the details by routing all "searches" through a URL like that makes the click appear to be a search doesn't hide the fact that this is not, in fact, search advertising. It's fraud. Since Google doesn't recognize this as click fraud, I've adopted the term distribution fraud. It's arguably a bigger problem than click fraud. Other AdWords veterans are losing trust in Google due to this issue.

I can see, though, why Google doesn't want to report this kind of information to the advertisers who are paying for this traffic. That violates Google's mission. On top of that, these sites display multiple pop-ups, which is contrary to Google's no pop-ups philosophy. More important than either of those egregious facts, this is simply not search advertising. That's just plain wrong. Is it fraudulent?

Apogee Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Iowa Democratic Debate Ignored

Before reading this post, go back and read 3 Secret Tools for Presidential Election Advertising Campaigns. Then, look at this search trend from today:

iowa democratic debate

Wouldn't you expect to see some political ads on a Google search for iowa democratic debate? I haven't seen any all day, despite the spike in searches for those keywords. This is what I currently see for that search:

iowa democratic debate search

Nope. No ads from any of the presidential candidates, Democratic or Republican. Are they missing a huge opportunity to get their message in front of an audience that's actually interested?

Here's the transcript from today's ABC Democratic Debate.

Tags: , , ,

New Hampshire Straw Poll Search Trends

Eric Frenchman uses the term issue targeting. Why aren't the marketing teams for the presidential candidates buying more "issue" keywords on search engines? As well as issues, I think the candidates should be buying keywords in reaction to current search trends. Read the Wired article "Which Presidential Candidates Have Mastered Google?" for more details on this type of strategy. Consider these recent search trends:
That search is not in the top 100 either yesterday (8/18/07) or today (8/19/07) but it does register (Google trends data is updated many times throughout the day). I'm currently only seeing an ad for Ron Paul on a new hampshire straw poll search on Google. Why don't other presidential candidates (from either party) buy that keyword phrase for the short term? Maybe trendwatching is not a part of the keyword research process for their search marketing teams?

Apogee Tags (made w/ TagBuildr): , , ,

Saturday, August 18, 2007

As Seen In Wired newsCheck out the article "Which Presidential Candidates Have Mastered Google?" via Wired News. It includes links to two of my recent blog posts:
I've been a subscriber to Wired for close to a decade now. It's an honor to be mentioned on the site.

Apogee Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

3 Secret Tools for Presidential Election Advertising Campaigns

I'm intrigued with the notion of real-time advertising, reacting to a current event offline that leads to a spike in searches online and displaying advertising alongside those searches. Examples of these kinds of events that translate to online advertising opportunities include the Super Bowl and the recent YouTube Debate. I've devoted some of my firm's AdWords R&D budget to testing the effectiveness of real-time advertising. Speaking with a journalist about this topic yesterday and seeing the Google's (GOOG) YouTube is officially an election tool post on BloggingStocks prompted me to detail how 3 of Google's tools can be used for presidential election advertising campaigns. This is a continuation of the CNN YouTube Presidential Debate AdWords Experiment. These are the tools:
  1. Google Hot Trends
  2. Google AdWords
  3. Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)
Here's a specific example of how I used them in a recent online advertising experiment. First, check the search trends data when a current event is taking place:

iowa straw poll search trends

Notice items #1 and #5. Drilling down into the iowa straw poll search trends for that day:

iowa straw poll

I bought these keywords (using this keyword bidding strategy) via Google AdWords and ran a short term test for part of the day on Saturday (reacting to the search trends) and then 2 full days afterwards:

google adwords results

Notice that the exact matches [iowa straw poll results] and [iowa straw poll] yielded the most ad impressions and clicks. Also, the average CPC (cost per click) was a mere 13 cents. Think about that. For less than the cost of postage, a presidential candidate could have acquired a visitor to their election campaign web site. How much would a direct mail advertising campaign have cost to acquire 1,820 visitors to their site? How much would a radio or TV or print ad campaign have cost to generate that much interest? Remember, too, that impressions are free. What would it have been worth a presidential candidate to have their message displayed 41,552 times when potential voters were searching for keywords like iowa straw poll? Can you see why search engine advertising is so effective?

It's worth pointing out that I simply threw these new "iowa straw poll" keywords into the existing ad group I'd built for the YouTube Debate AdWords Experiment. Had I built a more specific landing page, the quality scores would have been higher and the minimum bids lower. (See a helpful explanation of minimum bids on eWhisper). The reason I could use the existing ad group is dynamic keyword insertion (excellent DKI guide via RedFly Marketing). I had to pay some higher minimum bids initially but once the ads ran a bit and the CTRs were good for the high volume keywords, the quality scores improved and the minimum bids dropped. For the highest search volume keyword, the minimum bid even dropped below 5 cents. Here are the ads I had in rotation using DKI:

dynamic keyword insertion ads

Here's the landing page from the ads:
Want more details on these kinds of real-time advertising strategies using Google AdWords? Follow the initial advertising experiment:
Apogee Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Google AdWords Strategy: Keyword Bidding

My blog post about a keyword bidding strategy for Google AdWords, Purple Flowers Are Not Pink Despite What Google Might Think, is now an article on Search Engine Guide. Read it there or read it here. Do read it though. It will keep you from losing money to Google.

After you read the article, I think you'll realize there's a fundamental flaw in AdWords. On the one hand, Google is driving up minimum bids and forcing advertisers to create very targeted landing pages that fit the keywords in an ad and also the keywords in an ad group's keyword list. At the same time, Google is taking some liberty in displaying those ads for related keywords. In many cases, these related keywords aren't quite as targeted. If that is the case, why should the advertiser pay the higher bid? There should be a discount for expanded matches. The expanded matching algorithm is contrary to quality score. They are opposing forces. Google even recognizes this. Consider the help text that answers the "How does broad match benefit me?" question:
Because your ads are associated with relevant keyword variations, they'll appear more often to your potential customers. This additional targeted traffic is likely to lead to more clicks on your ads and more conversions on your website... Also, your ads' performance on keyword variations doesn't influence your keywords' Quality Scores, minimum cost-per-click (CPC) bids, and ad positions.
Think about that. The keyword variations (expanded matches) are not factored into quality score and therefore aren't a factor in minimum CPC calculations. However, advertisers still have to pay that higher CPC even for these not necessarily targeted keywords. Can Google really have it both ways? Make sure your keyword bidding strategy takes into account the fact that broad matches are actually expanded matches.

Apogee Tags (made w/ TagBuildr): , ,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

David Beckham Makes MLS Debut Against DC United

This post has nothing to do with search engine marketing. I just want to record for posterity the fact that I was at RFK Stadium when David Beckham made his MLS debut. I haven't been to a DC United match for awhile. It was good to see them play well and win. Fantastic that Beckham played, albeit for only the last 20 minutes or so. You could see glimpses of his quality, despite the fact that he didn't touch the ball much because the LA Galaxy had been reduced to 10 men after a silly foul. Oh well, I bet Ted Leonsis didn't get soaked like I did. I think I'll enjoy a game of TagMan and then catch up on work email...


Tags: , , , ,

Did Google Kill the SEO Star?

I'm humming Google Killed the SEO Star today. Why? In the future, I think Google's going to display more AdWords ads across the top of the search results. See the Inside AdWords announcement. This is causing quite a bit of confusion in the realm of search engine marketing. Whether your focus is PPC or SEO, this will impact your results. There's some good analysis of this impending change from Merjis and Search Engine Land. On the one hand, it's not that big a deal that they're going to use the same ranking formula for the ads across the top that they've been using all along for the ads on the right. On the other hand, this will create an opportunity for companies to buy their way into the top spots. It will also boost revenue for Google. Note the details from the FAQ:
In the current top ad placement formula, we consider your Quality Score and your actual CPC, which is determined in part by the bids of advertisers below you. Even if you have a high quality ad, if advertisers below you are not bidding very much, your actual CPC may not be high enough to qualify your ad to appear in a top position.

With this new formula, instead of considering your actual CPC, we'll consider your maximum CPC bid, which you control. This means that your ad's eligibility to be promoted is no longer dependent on the bids of advertisers below you. Therefore, if you have a high quality ad, you now have more control to achieve a top position by increasing your maximum CPC.

Your actual CPC will continue to be determined by the auction, but subject to a minimum price for top spots. The minimum price is based on the quality of your ad and is the minimum amount required for your ad to achieve top placement above Google search results. As always, the higher your ad’s quality, the less you will pay. And you will never be charged more than your maximum CPC bid.
Now, Google AdWords advertisers will have two price hurdles to jump:
  1. Minimum bid to be active for search
  2. Minimum bid to be eligible for top placement
Does that mean there are now 3 quality scores in play for search ads? Only 1 quality score is visible (albeit in qualitative fashion) in the AdWords interface. The new minimum bid to qualify for top spots will not be known by advertisers. Perhaps that's a good thing?

Apogee Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Debate Question: Which Presidential Candidate is Most Qualified for the Job?

I try to avoid topics like politics and religion on this blog. However, since embarking on the CNN YouTube Presidential Debate AdWords Experiment, I've been looking at the presidential candidates' web sites lately and something has struck me. I think one of the candidates is more qualified for the job than the rest of the field. However, he's not a frontrunner. Who am I talking about? Bill Richardson. An article from an Iowa newspaper entitled Richardson packs jokes, thick resumé sums it up well:
Richardson might not be the best-known candidate - for now, anyway - but he might have the best credentials. His resumé includes U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and governor. He served in Congress under three presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I think what strikes me is the fact that his credentials seem to fit well with what the country needs right now in a leader:
  1. Experience with foreign policy
  2. Experience with energy and conservation issues
  3. Experience as an executive
  4. Experience with immigration issues
While I like the idea of a fresh voice from the likes of Barack Obama and even Ron Paul, I think the country needs a fresh perspective balanced with a strong foundation of experience in these critical areas. Check out the Bill Richardson for President site and let me know what you think. In this era of YouTube debates, perhaps voters are looking too much at how candidates look or sound. Instead, I think we should be examining their credentials.

Update: Came across a fascinating article entitled "Why isn't Bill Richardson's presidential candidacy taken seriously?" which suggests that Richardson does, indeed, have the best credentials of any candidate in the race. However, the author argues that being famous, more so than experienced, is necessary to garner the attention of the media and the public. Here's an excerpt:
Traditionally, Americans have turned to governors to serve as president, thinking that experience in executive office and with complicated managerial tasks outweighs the experience with federal policy issues that members of Congress can count in their favor. Happily, Richardson spent over a decade in the House of Representatives before becoming governor. In between, he was America's ambassador the United Nations, wracking up a level of national security experience that none of the other contenders can match. And did I mention he was also Secretary of Energy? Too bad nobody thinks energy independence and global climate change are important policy areas in which it would be good for the chief executive to have some knowledge...

The point about Richardson is that in many respects he's exactly the sort of person -- a popular governor -- who was taken seriously as a presidential contender in the very recent past. The list is long and familiar -- Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush. The difference is that Richardson is also super-experienced...

In retrospect, however, Bush was less the last of the governor presidents than a transition to the new era in which, to be president, you need to be a famous celebrity. Mayors of New York City are always famous, because the people who run the media live in New York. Hence, Rudy Giuliani is a serious candidate (and even Michael Bloomberg is considered a more serious possibility than he should be). John McCain spent all of 1999, 2000, and 2001 chasing positive press and became famous in the process -- so he's a serious candidate. Barack Obama has an extremely interesting personal story and was one of the only Democratic successes in 2004, so he became famous and now he's a serious candidate. John Edwards got famous running on a national ticket, so he's a serious candidate. Hillary Clinton's husband used to be president (you may have heard), so she's famous and she's a serious candidate. Most absurdly, Mitt Romney happened to preside over the Massachusetts gay marriage controversy, thus becoming famous and, therefore, a serious candidate.
Is Bill Richardson the most qualified candidate for the job? If not, who else is?

Apogee Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 05, 2007

AdWords Experiment Update #2: YouTube Debate Top 10 Keywords

These are the top 10 keywords (by ad impressions) from the CNN YouTube Presidential Debate AdWords Experiment I recently conducted:

youtube debate keywords

That's during a time between YouTube debates. I'm sure a Google search for republican debate would generate a significant number of ad impressions today (see the hot trends data). Apparently, ABC hosted a Republican debate in Iowa this morning. Only one political candidate is visible in the republican debate SERP (search engine results page) - see below.

As the presidential candidates invest time and money in their Internet presence during this election season, why are they ignoring search engines? Don't they want to get their message in front of an Internet audience that's actively seeking information about the debates? I'll run down the top 5 searches from the experiment and will identify any presidential candidates that are currently running search ads:
  1. youtube debate | no candidates
  2. democratic debate | Barack Obama
  3. democratic candidates | no candidates
  4. cnn youtube debate | no candidates
  5. republican debate | Mitt Romney
Wow! Only one presidential candidate from each party is running a Google AdWords campaign that targets these important keywords. Why are the political candidates neglecting search engine advertising?

Related Posts:
AdWords Experiment Update #1: Democratic Debate Search Trends
YouTube Debate +1 for John Edwards Campaign
CNN YouTube Presidential Debate AdWords Experiment

Tags (made w/ TagBuildr + TagTrends): , , , , , ,

Friday, August 03, 2007

Does Google Have Permission for this Mission Omission?

As you're reading this post, keep Google's mission statement in mind:
Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Ok. What's wrong with this picture?

domain ads in adwords report

No, not the first line that shows that contextual advertising doesn't work on social networking sites, which might make a great topic for a future post. (Note to self: Make sure clients *never* buy CPM ads on social networking sites.) I'm talking about the second line of this AdWords Placement Performance Report Example. The whole point of these new reports is to provide transparency into the AdWords content network. Unfortunately, that transparency is inexplicably opaque. Does Google's mission not apply to information inside the Googleplex? Perhaps their mission, due to the omission of specific parked domains information, is in need of a revision:
Google's mission is to organize the world's information (where world indicates any location outside of any Googleplex) and make it universally accessible (except to AdWords advertisers even though they bring us 99% of our revenue) and useful (where we are the sole arbiters of what could be considered useful and reserve the right to exclude any information that could have a deleterious impact on our earnings growth).
Ok, I think my tongue is now stuck to the inside of my cheek. Seriously, though, can you see how ridiculous this is? I don't think this partial transparency is going to sit well with Google's customers. Now that advertisers are using the new report and realize these glaring omissions exist, some questions are being raised and some pressure's being put on Google to take action:
Transparency is necessary. Simply blocking all AdSense for Domains traffic is not necessarily the answer. If you've been a subscriber since my Not Search Engine Spam post which details garbage traffic from parked domains, you'd probably think I'd advocate blocking parked domains entirely.

On the contrary, just as the AdWords content network includes both high quality and low quality sites (which makes site exclusion an essential tool), the same is true of the domain network. But, wait a minute?! There is no domain network. Precisely! That's what I've meant when I've posted about Google's hidden ad network. The AdSense for Domains traffic is distributed on *both* the search and content networks of AdWords. That's the problem. It's fitting a square peg in a round hole.

It's time to create a domain network, in addition to the existing search and content networks. Let this traffic stand on its own. Let advertisers see precisely where their ads are being displayed. Let them use site exclusion to weed out those sites (or parked domain networks) that are low quality non-generic domains. Let the advertisers measure the results and see if the domain parking traffic conversion myth exists. Let's find out.

Dear Google, would it be possible to have that "information and make it universally accessible and useful" for us, your best customers? Either that, or could you revise your mission statement? And, stop mentioning it on your blog. Or maybe these guys from the search quality team can help out with the quality of the reporting of the quality parked domain traffic on the AdWords content network (which also might be distributed on the search network)? Ah, maybe that's it. Perhaps the mission statement applies to the teams on the organic side of search and not paid search. Is that it?

P.S. Is Google now also a search engine marketing firm?

Apogee Tags (made w/ TagBuildr): , , , , , , , ,

Yahoo! Search Web 2.0 Strategy

In a web 2.0 world dominated by sites like YouTube (owned by Google), MySpace and Facebook, Yahoo! is quietly making some incremental improvements to the Yahoo! Search product which could position the company to gain market share from Google. Yesterday, Yahoo! Search launched a music artist shortcut feature. Here's an example of a search for one of my favorite musicians, Moby:

Moby on Yahoo Search

Nice! The web 2.0 buzz these days is all about social networking sites (MySpace, Facebook, etc), but search is still where the money is. By integrating aspects of social networking (popular video and music) into its core search product, Yahoo! is making its search product more appealing to people who are currently using Google for search and sites like Facebook and MySpace for social networking.

As I mentioned in What Should the New Yahoo! CEO Do First, if Yahoo! can integrate its other properties into Yahoo! Search (like they've done with Answers), these incremental improvements could allow them to gain market share from Google. So, the first step is to improve the front end product. Too much emphasis has been placed on Panama, improvements to the back end advertising platform. Doesn't matter what happens on the back end if the front end doesn't have the traffic. Now, once they've made Yahoo! Search a sufficiently better experience than a search on Google, they can sell more ads against those search results. However, they do still need to allow advertisers to buy ads only on Yahoo! Search.

I think Yahoo! is actually in a pretty good position here. Maybe if they fix the back end advertising platform after finishing front end improvements, I'll sign up to be a Yahoo! Search Marketing ambassador again. ;-)

Looking at this from a stock investor's point of view, Yahoo! (YHOO) seems cheaper on a price to operating cash flow basis (P/OCF = 22) compared to Google (GOOG) where P/OCF = 36. That's looking at the trailing twelve months, though. It's all about future growth. In that regard, Google seems cheaper with a forward P/E of 26.10 compared to 40.56. Depends how much you trust the forward estimates. Plus, if Yahoo! can take search engine market share from Google, that'll decrease Google's growth rate in favor of Yahoo! (So you don't think I'm biased, I currently own shares in both GOOG and YHOO and manage advertising accounts with both companies. I think there's room for both companies to succeed.)

Tags (made w/ TagBuildr and TagMuse): , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Greater Baltimore Technology Council Power Networking Event

GBTC logoMy firm is a member of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council. I attended the GBTC Meet the Members Power Networking event yesterday in Columbia, MD. Of the dozen or so search engine advertising accounts I'm currently managing, only one company (Hedwin Corporation) is actually in Maryland. I'd like to do business with more local companies. Conducting so much business online and over the phone, it's good to attend local business events. I enjoy learning about companies and their business models. I think that's partly why I enjoy search engine advertising. In order to figure out the best keywords to buy using Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, I need to learn about a business and the industry it operates within.

The GBTC power networking event was well structured. Seated around tables of 11, we had the chance to meet 10 other people at a given table. We had 15 minutes to go around the table and give our pitch and then exchange business cards. I learned about 30 companies as we rotated to new tables twice. What could have been better? Well, it would have been useful to know ahead of time how long we had to pitch our companies. I guessed 30 seconds so had a rough idea what I'd say for 30 seconds. We actually had 60 seconds. I don't think I ever used the full time, while others went well beyond 60 seconds in a few cases. Not a big deal.

I definitely need to work on my elevator pitch. It was interesting to hear what others had to say about their companies and how they presented their pitches. That alone made the event useful for me. Digging through my stack of business cards, here are some of the organizations I found interesting:
That reminds me - one other item that might make this type of networking event better would be to have a list of attendees, either a hard copy or sent via email, which includes websites and/or email contacts. It wasn't possible to meet with all of the companies. At any rate, it was another well organized event from the GBTC.

Tags (byo w/ TagBuildr): , , , ,

Is Google a Search Engine Marketing Firm?

I've been wondering lately what Google is. Is part of Google operating as a search engine marketing firm? Other search marketing bloggers are asking similar questions:
A couple of recent posts on some official Google blogs make it look like Google is actually offering search marketing services, even before they acquire Performics, a search engine marketing company that's a part of the DoubleClick acquisition. I'll cite two examples. First, from the Google Health Advertising Blog:
Many of our clients face these issues; companies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations through “Get the Facts” or issue management campaigns. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?

We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message. We help you connect your company’s assets while helping users find the information they seek.

If you’re interested in learning more about issue management campaigns or about how we can help your company better connect its assets online, email us. We’d love to hear from you! Setting up these campaigns is easy and we’re happy to share best practices.
That post caused quite a bit of controversy. There's a more recent post, on the Google CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) Blog, that clearly indicates there are groups within Google that operate as search marketing firms:
In order to optimize for our CPG clients, we increase placements across our network in a couple of ways:

1) through a mirrored, keyword-based content campaign. Take the search campaign and essentially mirror it as a content-only campaign. Narrow the keyword list a bit to make tighter-themed ad groups, and set max CPC bids according to your goals. Run a placement performance report to see where your ads run, and exclude sites as necessary if they aren't converting or relevant in terms of content.

2) through a targeted list of sites in our network. Hand-pick sites by category, site type, or other . Upload ads (text, image, and video) and choose CPM bids for each site.

Of course, we don't just set up the campaigns and then move on. The trick is to constantly monitor performance of the various sites and adjust bids, creative, and the site mix as necessary to maximize conversion. Sometimes we're surprised by what converts best -- one ad format over another, a certain category of sites or site, or one campaign more than the others. It's important to be flexible and keep an attentive eye on what is working and what is not.
Incidentally, there's some pretty good advice in that post. Consider their first point. I've been arguing for years that contextual advertising campaigns should be managed separately from search advertising campaigns. Interesting to see that strategy recommended on an official Google blog.

I guess Google is now a competitor to my search engine marketing firm. Am I worried? Not in the least. I'll explain why in a future post (subscribe to Apogee Weblog). For now, though, let me repeat the question: Is Google a search engine marketing firm?

Tags (made w/ TagBuildr): , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Inside AdWords: Campaign Optimizer + Search Query Performance Report

A couple of recent Inside AdWords posts are worth mentioning. First, Campaign Optimizer now available. It's not a good tool. Maybe it'll improve. Right now, though, it can have some disastrous effects on your AdWords account. Note the fine print on the AdWords help page that answers the question How do I use the Campaign Optimizer:
Review your proposal carefully. The proposal is automated, so some changes may not be relevant for your campaign.
Enough said. Second, How to use the new Search Query Performance report is a well written post. Read it and then go back and read my post about the different match types called Purple Flowers Are Not Pink Despite What Google Might Think. You'll start to understand how broad match works and what strategies you need to put in place because of the behavior of broad matches. Also, the new search query performance report is one of the reasons Why More Companies Will Now Notice Google AdWords Flaws.

Apogee Tags (made w/ TagBuildr): , , ,